Jessica Lowery is the Founder & CEO of The POWER of Elderberries. Years ago, when she found herself curled up in a ball on the waiting room floor of the doctor’s office desperate for relief from her flu symptoms, she never imagined that moment would lead her to discovering the natural alternative that has completely changed her life.
Longing for a natural alternative to those awful flu symptoms, she desperately searched the internet and discovered elderberry syrup. Not only did elderberry syrup help her get back to work the very next day after that awful doctor’s visit, but it has been her go-to for keeping her whole family healthy year-round.
Jessica started sharing the amazing benefits of elderberries with her friends on Facebook because she wanted to spare other parents the hassle of missing time from work, paying for doctors’ visits, and most of all, that feeling of helplessness that comes over you when your kids are sick, especially when it comes to viral infections.
She started making her own elderberry syrup because she wanted control over ingredient quality, safety, and taste which led to a business that EXPLODED organically! She sees each of her customers as family and cares deeply for their health and well-being.
Jessica is dedicated to educating families with purpose and passion so they too can achieve optimal health and live a better quality of life.
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for GWBC Radio’s Open for Business. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here, another episode of GWBC Open for Business. Today, we have with us Jessica Lowery with The POWER of Elderberries. Welcome, Jessica.
Jessica Lowery: [00:00:28] Thank you so much for having me today.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Well, before we get too far into things, tell us about the Elderberry. What kind of plant fruit is that?
Jessica Lowery: [00:00:38] Yeah. So, elderberries are actually native to Europe, Africa, parts of Asia. They contain many vitamins, nutrients and immensely high amounts of what are called anthocyanins. And those are a natural compound with powerful antioxidant effects.
Jessica Lowery: [00:00:54] In fact, Hippocrates, the ancient Greek, otherwise known as the Father of Medicine, referred to elderberries as his “medicine chest” because they appear to be a cure all for so many different health ailments. They’ve been one of the top antiviral herbs on our planet. They are known for boosting the immune system, as well as having antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, along with the powerful antioxidant properties that prevent cellular damage to our bodies.
Jessica Lowery: [00:01:23] And in fact, elderberries are rich in what are called anthocyanins. They’re actually the pigments that give elderberries that rich coloring they have. And in addition, they act as antioxidants to fight free radicals in our body and help support the human immune system.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:41] Now, is it a berry that’s like a raspberry or a strawberry that anyone can just pick and eat, and that’s how you consume this? Or is it you have to consume it in another way?
Jessica Lowery: [00:01:51] Well, they’ve been around for thousands of years. In fact, meeting people at the farmer’s market, they often talk about how they grew up with elderberries, making jams, and jellies, and wine and all kinds of different stuff. But they can actually be toxic to consume without being cooked first. So, the health benefits really come with a process in which we use them, which is a cooking process with making our products.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:19] So, now, how did elderberries enter your life? What brought you to them?
Jessica Lowery: [00:02:25] So, honestly, the power of elderberries is a business that I never saw coming. I started, I kind of take it back a little bit. Back in 2013, I got pregnant. And I mean, I was pregnant with flu symptoms. And I was at the doctor’s office and just really wanting a natural alternative to my flu symptoms.
Jessica Lowery: [00:02:50] And that’s really what helped me find elderberries online. And I got my hands on some elderberry syrup. And after taking it, I was back to work the very next day. So, I’ve always been in the natural alternative. I had three natural childbirth, and I wanted a natural approach to combat my symptoms. And that’s when I first discovered elderberries and elderberry syrup particularly.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:15] But what was kind of the leap from there, being a consumer of it to “I’m going to start a business around it”?
Jessica Lowery: [00:03:23] Well, I wanted control over the quality of ingredients, use the safety of the product as well as the taste of the products, so I started creating my own. And from there, I shared so many benefits with my friends on Facebook because I wanted to spare other parents missing time from work, paying for sick doctor’s visit and just that helplessness that comes over you when your kids are sick, especially when it comes to viral infections. And that’s when The POWER of Elderberries was founded and has since just exploded organically.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:57] So, now, how did you go about just being a person in your house kind of experimenting to having a business where you’re actually creating this for other people in a safe manner?
Jessica Lowery: [00:04:11] Yeah. So, I was actually a full-time lecturer at Coastal Carolina University at the time, also with three young children. So, it made growing this business particularly daunting in the early days. However, when I look into the eyes of just desperate mothers with sick children and started to begin witnessing the relief that the elderberry syrup was bringing to countless families in our community, I really saw no turning back.
Jessica Lowery: [00:04:40] And really, it’s been the customer testimonials that keeps us pushing forward. In fact, I’ll never forget one of our customers, Connie. She walked up to me with just tears streaming down her face. And as she wrapped her arms around me, she said, “Thank you for creating such an amazing product. This product has saved my life.” And it’s just people like that that that’s why we’re doing this.
Jessica Lowery: [00:05:04] And then, I have customers like Ernesta. She’s got a 16-year-old daughter who has fought year-round horrible allergies. And since taking The POWER of Elderberry, she has been completely off her allergy shots. And then, we have people like Lind. She’s a nurse and believer of our syrup. And she said, within 48 hours, after starting The POWER of Elderberries, elderberry syrup, her husband’s cough was completely gone.
Jessica Lowery: [00:05:28] So, it’s really just been the customer testimonials that really shook me up and said, “I felt like God has called me to this business to help people.” And we saw that it was obviously working for people and on the prevention side, as well as combating symptoms in a natural alternative, and took this leap of faith, and here we are.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:52] But I understand that a lot of people like it and are benefiting from it according to the anecdotal evidence that you’ve shared. How do you go from kind of a lay person who isn’t a manufacturer of a product that people are consuming to learning how to even do that in a safe manner? Like did you have mentors? Were you going to other plants on how to produce this in a scalable manner? Like how did you kind of get your learning curve solved?
Lee Kantor: [00:06:22] Because this seems like pretty complex. You have to get the materials, you have to turn it into another material or syrup, and then you have to model it and share it in a manner that’s safe throughout the whole process. It requires a lot of technology, and skill and equipment that I don’t know a layperson typically doesn’t have at their disposal. So, how did you kind of begin the journey as a business person?
Jessica Lowery: [00:06:46] Yeah, that’s a great question. It started with me ordering up ingredients to start producing my own for my own family. And from there, the recipe has changed from what I initially found online to get me started to handcrafting, and producing, and making my own recipe to make it unique and what my kids liked because I need to have them like the taste of it. And that was the problem I was running into, is I just wanted better control of the ingredients, the quality, the taste.
Jessica Lowery: [00:07:20] So, I started making it in my home kitchen, and I was just inundated with orders within the community. The referral network was just skyrocketing here in our county, and I knew I was on to something. And then, my husband and I, we’d be up from 7:00 at night after putting the kids to bed to 3:00 in the morning making the syrup. It was about an eight-hour process, bottling it, refrigerating it.
Jessica Lowery: [00:07:48] And then, it got to the point where we’re like, “We really should reach out to someone that has some expertise behind this.” So, we reached out to a friend of ours that he’s actually a chef. And so, we knew that he had knowledge behind what equipment was going to be best for us to use to make it more efficient and things like that. And so, bringing him in our home kitchen and using him to help guide us through this process definitely helped.
Jessica Lowery: [00:08:15] But what really started getting it off the ground running was landing a commercial facility. I didn’t want to be making it out of my home kitchen. I didn’t even feel comfortable doing that. If I were to put myself in the shoes of consumers, just for like hygiene, and safety of the product, and everything, it’s like, “If we’re going to do this, we got to figure out how to do it right.”
Jessica Lowery: [00:08:36] And so, my husband and I, we actually took food safety certification classes, learning more about pH balance and the safety of the product. And then, it got to where I found the perfect bottle for the product. So, there was no waste as consumers poured it out.
Jessica Lowery: [00:08:52] And then, we actually hired our friend that came to our home kitchen watching me make it out of there. We hired him to take over the production of our company once we landed that commercial facility to produce it in. And Chad has a lot of expertise in food safety management. And I basically handed him over my recipe for him to make it, obviously, in much larger quantities and work through that process of making sure that it tasted just like it did when I was making it.
Jessica Lowery: [00:09:24] And from there, we’ve got it third-party lab tested. We’ve actually invested the resources to have our products tested. I think it’s really important for people to understand just the inefficiencies of, especially, dietary supplements not being regulated as much as they should be. And I wanted consumers to feel completely confident and trust us as a brand. And that’s why I was adamant about putting resources in to getting this third-party lab tested, not only for the safety, but also the purity, the potency, the freshness, so that we could know every detail about our product before putting them on the shelves for consumers.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:08] And that’s a great lesson to other entrepreneurs out there. It’s perfectly fine to start in your own home kitchen. But at some point, if your brand is starting to catch on, you have to take the next steps in order to ensure the consistency, every batch is going to be similar and the same and safely kind of manufactured. You don’t want anything to happen to anybody.
Jessica Lowery: [00:10:32] Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:34] So, now, you mentioned some ways your brand is different. Are there other ways that your brand is different than the other elderberries syrups out there?
Jessica Lowery: [00:10:45] Yes. So, The POWER of Elderberries, we produce the elderberry syrup, along with our newly launched elderberry gummies. Both products are made using premium organic ingredients in abundance of South Carolina local raw honey. We actually work with two beekeepers that bring our honey to us. Like mentioned, our products have been and third-party lab tested. They’re vegetarian-friendly and provide a powerhouse of immune-boosting properties.
Jessica Lowery: [00:11:13] Our products have over 700 milligrams of elderberries per serving, which is very potent. And kids absolutely love the taste. You can take our products daily, seasonally, or when you’re symptomatic. The benefits are endless. We have three children ages nine, seven and five and not one has ever had sick doctor’s visit or been on antibiotics since taking our products.
Jessica Lowery: [00:11:36] As far as differences in brands, I know there’s a lot of elderberry products out there, so it can be very cumbersome for consumers to choose what is the best product. As far as the differences, we don’t use any kind of refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, tapioca syrup. There’s no artificial sweeteners, flavors, dyes. We don’t have any kind of filler or thickener in our products, no gelatin, and they’re not made using any kind of concentrate.
Jessica Lowery: [00:12:09] So, these products are handcrafted, really using the purest ingredients from nature. Not only are you getting the local raw honey, the organic black elderberries, but we also put organic ginger root, organic cinnamon sticks and organic whole cloves. So, it’s not just the power of elderberries, which is very potent in our product, but you’re also reaping the antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of all those different spices, as well as the honey in our product.
Jessica Lowery: [00:12:42] Just kind of breaking down the differences between our syrup and gummies compared to others, a lot of elderberry syrup or wellness syrups on the shelves, they’re on the shelves at retailers. You can actually find our product refrigerated, and that’s because we choose add no preservatives do it. So, it has to be kept refrigerated. So, that’s one of the biggest differences.
Jessica Lowery: [00:13:05] Also, you’re not going to find any sediment collection at the bottom of our bottles. So, some elderberry syrups will use like powdered ginger root or powdered cinnamon. We don’t use any powder. And therefore, you don’t have to shake our bottle before you consume it. So, it has a really smooth taste. We also don’t bottle at extremely high temperatures. And so, what that does, it ensures our customers are reaping all the benefits of the local raw honey that is used in our elderberry syrup.
Jessica Lowery: [00:13:35] And then, as far as our elderberry gummies, these are really a unicorn product to the market. There are other elderberry gummies on the market, but what we found with comparing ours to others, most that we compare them to have either 25 or 50 milligrams of elderberry per one gummy. Our one gummy sits at 238 milligrams. Is that not crazy? So, it’s about eight to nine times the potency just in the one gummy itself.
Jessica Lowery: [00:14:05] They’re also gelatin-free. So, it’s a great vegetarian-friendly, non-gelatin gummy. We’re using what’s called organic agar-agar to bind it together instead of any kind of animal byproduct. And so, it gives the gummy, actually, a different texture where it’s not real chewy, it doesn’t get stuck in your teeth, it’s not coated in sugar. So, we really refer to it as natural ordinary gummy simply because of the differences there.
Jessica Lowery: [00:14:34] And then, most gummies are sweetened with refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. And just like our elderberry syrup, we’re only using that local raw honey in our elderberry gummy. And that’s really what makes them that unicorn product to the market.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:49] Now, talk a little bit about some of the challenges you face as a female founder. Are you involved in any of the maybe women certification systems like WBENC or GWBC? And if so, have they helped you at all in the growth of your company?
Jessica Lowery: [00:15:07] Absolutely, I am WBENC-certified and certified WBE. It has helped us tremendously, which is the opportunities, getting connected with corporate sponsors. I’m actually in a pitch competition right now, and I made it to the final round that I’ll be doing here very, very soon. So, I’m excited for that opportunity to share The POWER of Elderberries with others.
Jessica Lowery: [00:15:31] But I will say, when I began this journey as a business owner, I was a fulltime lecturer at Coastal Carolina University and along with having three children, it made leading my team particularly very challenging. The area I had to grow in to overcome this challenge was really setting aside my pride and releasing the need to do it all and having that control. I had to learn to ask for help.
Jessica Lowery: [00:15:58] My husband, Jake, he’s been my number one cheerleader from the very beginning of this business. And within seven months of making my first order of elderberry syrup in our home kitchen, he actually resigned from his financial planning career to support me on this new adventure of entrepreneurship. So, his just willingness to jump in and help wherever the need is really something that I’ll never take for granted.
Jessica Lowery: [00:16:24] And I know, as women, we often believe we can do it all. Four months into starting this business, I remember sitting on the couch with my husband after we had put the kids to bed, and I just spoke to him. And I was like, “You either have to quit your job or I’m going to have to shut all this down. I just can’t keep going like this.” And then, to my surprise, he said yes and “If we can find a commercial kitchen, then you got it.”
Jessica Lowery: [00:16:50] And so, in addition to his support, I also reached out to friends who had skills and expertise in areas that I did not. And that helped, definitely helped excel the business leaps and bounds. So, my advice would just be to just not be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s a friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance or a loved one, just communicate openly about what your needs are, and then let God move.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:18] With the right partners, you can do anything.
Jessica Lowery: [00:17:21] That’s right. It’s been amazing.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:23] Now, if somebody wanted to learn more about The POWER of Elderberries, what’s the website?
Jessica Lowery: [00:17:29] Yeah. So, our website is thepowerofelderberries.com. We actually have over 70 retailers that carry our products. So, there is a tab that you can find a retailer near you or we do ship nationwide as well. And I wanted to offer to all the listeners out there a 10% off coupon code from any order off on our website. And they can use promo code GWBC10 to receive that 10% off. And then, I also encourage people to follow us on Instagram or Facebook to learn more about the benefits of elderberries and our products. And we’re also going to be coming out with a new referral program very soon as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:13] Well, Jessica, thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Jessica Lowery: [00:18:18] Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I really, really appreciate the opportunity to share The POWER of Elderberries with others.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:25] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time.
The Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC®) is at the forefront of redefining women business enterprises (WBEs). An increasing focus on supplier diversity means major corporations are viewing our WBEs as innovative, flexible and competitive solutions. The number of women-owned businesses is rising to reflect an increasingly diverse consumer base of women making a majority of buying decision for herself, her family and her business.
GWBC® has partnered with dozens of major companies who are committed to providing a sustainable foundation through our guiding principles to bring education, training and the standardization of national certification to women businesses in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.